According to SHOPPINGPICKS, Republic of Moldova is an Eastern European State ; it borders to the West with Romania and for the rest with Ukraine. The territory, stretched from N to S, corresponds for the most part to Bessarabia, to which is added the so-called Transnistria, ie the region E of Dnestr. The achievement of independence was marked by strong ethnic tensions: the dispute with the Gagauzis was settled with a wide autonomy granted in 1995, while the one with the Russians of the self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria is still open.
Moldova – A very young state with an ancient name
In a region in which displacements and overlaps of peoples are a very ancient datum, the new Moldova is trying to carve out its own difficult identity. Enclosed by much larger neighbors, with a multi-ethnic population and an economy struggling to find its way, the country is counting on international cooperation.
Small territory, big problems
The area that constitutes the Republic of Moldova (or Moldova) is almost entirely flat, between the rivers Prut and Dnestr and the shore of the Black Sea, which Moldova does not reach. The climate is temperate continental. The population is mostly rural: the capital Chişinău (779,400 residents) and some other cities are home to less than half of the Moldavians. Due to strong emigration and poor living conditions, the residents are slowly decreasing. Moldovans (about two thirds of the population) are similar to Romanians in origin, language and religion, but many Ukrainians and Russians live in the country (together they are a quarter of the total), especially along the eastern border, and then Roma, Bulgarians, Turks gagauzi (Christians) and other minorities.
The economy is certainly not thriving and is based on agriculture, much improved in the Soviet era (cereals, fruit, vegetables), while the industry suffers from the absolute lack of raw materials. The country depends on imports, international aid and money sent home by emigrants.
After the withdrawal of the Romans from Dacia in 274 BC, Moldavia was the scene, for almost a millennium, of repeated invasions (Goths, Huns, Slavs, Avars, Bulgars, Magyars, Tatars and Pecenegians). In 1365 it became an autonomous principality and in the following century, although it had reached its maximum extension and prosperity, it came under the control of the Turks. Between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, it attracted the sights of the Poles, the Austrians and the Russians, who from 1828 to 1834 made it their protectorate; but in 1856, following the peace of Paris, it returned under Turkish sovereignty. In 1859 it was united with Wallachia, giving rise to the United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, from which Romania would arise in 1862. In 1924 the Autonomous Republic of Moldova was formed, which became part of the Soviet Union.
In 1990 Moldova proclaimed its secession from the Soviet Union and from 1991 it took the name of the Republic of Moldova. The new state found itself facing a very difficult economic situation, aggravated by the contrasts between the different ethnic groups. After an initial phase of rapprochement with Romania – an approach that led the Gagauze (Turkish-speaking) and Slavic minorities to proclaim two independent republics (Gaugatia and Transnistria, i.e. the region east of Dniester) – Moldova returned to intensify relations with Russia. As for the hypothesis of unification with Romania, it was defeated by the 1994 referendum.
In 1994, the first multi-party elections were also held and the new constitution was passed, which helped to dampen inter-ethnic conflicts. In 1995 Gagauzia, after having received ample autonomy, moderated its positions, while the problem of Transnistria remained unsolved.
The territory is on the whole a plateau of mediocre altitude (rarely exceeding 300 m asl), broken up into modest hills by river erosion. The most important rivers are the Prut, a tributary of the Danube, and the Dnestr, which flows into the Black Sea. The climate is temperate continental, with considerable temperature variations, rather scarce rainfall (500 mm per year) and limited to the summer season.
The population is mainly Moldovan / Romanian (78.2%); the rest is made up of Ukrainians (8.4%), Russians (5.8%, mainly concentrated in Transnistria), Gagauzi (Turkish-speaking, 4.4%), Bulgarians (1.1%) and small groups of Gypsies and Jews. It still retains, as regards the settlement and the way of life, many rural features (the urban population is only 41.3%). The main cities are, in addition to Chișinău, Tiraspol´, the largest center of Transnistria, Bălți and Tighina (formerly Bendery).
The official language is Moldovan (a variant of Romanian, it can be written in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets). Prevailing religion is Greek Orthodox Christianity (98%).
The overall flat course and the extension of the very fertile ‘black lands’ favor above all cereal cultivation (wheat, corn); but potatoes, beets, sunflowers and fruit trees are also widely cultivated. A notable development has affected viticulture, from which wines are also obtained of value, mostly destined for export. The economy of Moldova is largely based on rural activities, which absorb 40.6% of the active population. This dependence on agriculture (especially on the export of agricultural products, which has been very negatively affected by the political separation from traditional customers, the other countries of the former Soviet Union, which in any case continue to be the main partners), adding to the shortage of raw materials, especially energy, the absolute inadequacy of the industrial apparatus (consisting mostly of food and cement factories and concentrated almost exclusively in the capital and Tiraspol´) and the low degree of urbanization and outsourcing is the basis of the structural weakness of the Moldovan economy. The secession of Transnistria has also deprived the country of a third of its industrial capacity and 80% of electricity production, so much so that Moldova was forced to contract large debts with foreign companies supplying energy sources, and in particular with the Russian Gazprom.
The Moldova, despite having no direct maritime outlet, can easily reach the Black Sea by the Dnestr river route, using the port of Tighina, and therefore joined, together with Ukraine, Romania, Russia., Turkey and other countries (Balkans and Caucasians), the agreement for the Economic Cooperation of the Black Sea, an organization established in 1992 with economic (creation of the premises of a free trade area) and environmental (solution of the serious problems of pollution of the Black Sea).